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Park City Fire District may no longer oversee EMS services countywide

A Summit County ambulance
Park City Fire District
A Summit County ambulance

The latest plan to revise Summit County emergency medical services has fire districts providing EMS separately, with county funding.

Right now, the Park City Fire District coordinates ambulances for all of Summit County.

At a meeting Monday, the county’s mayors, fire chiefs and members of the Summit County Council discussed splitting up emergency medical services among Summit County’s three fire districts, giving those areas the autonomy to offer advanced service if they so choose.

The county would fund a “countywide basic level of service” that’s nearly identical to what exists now, and the North Summit and Park City fire districts have raised the tax money to hire advanced EMTs and paramedics on top of that.

South Summit Fire District, which is staffed mostly by volunteers, doesn’t have the revenue for advanced service, but county staff and councilmembers assured mayors on the south side their EMS service wouldn’t change under the proposed plan.

South Summit would continue to contract with Park City’s fire department, which already provides the basic level of service. The difference is, under the proposed EMS plan, South Summit Fire District would have the autonomy to upgrade its service, rather than that being Park City’s or the county’s decision.

Part of the reason for revising Summit County’s EMS is to comply with the 2021 state legislature’s House Bill 303, which now requires counties to provide basic 911 ambulance services.

In response to H.B. 303 and residents’ calls for better EMS service, the county contracted EMS consultants from SafeTech Solutions last year to recommend a new structure.

SafeTech recommended keeping Summit County’s current structure, where Park City Fire District oversees the entire county’s EMS.

Shayne Scott, who became Summit County manager in February, said the county’s legal team found SafeTech’s recommendation wouldn’t satisfy state law. For Scott, another reason to deviate from the consultants’ recommendation was because firefighters can be trained to do everything EMTs can.

“This idea has germinated really from our fire districts,” Scott said. “I think most of our fire employees, including our chiefs, are also EMS employees. They are cross-trained, and we believe there's a lot of efficiencies that can be involved when we respond with fire and EMS together.”

Summit County Council Chair Roger Armstrong said the SafeTech consultants were explicitly instructed not to consider scenarios where firefighters also provide EMS.

“They were told not to consider overlapping duties as part of their analysis, and there are substantial cost savings in that structure,” Armstrong said.

Going forward, the basic level of service would be one ambulance per fire district—really two physical ambulances, so there’s always a spare—one paramedic rescue unit operating out of Park City Fire Station 37, which is located near the junction of Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 40.

It would require a $2.2 million increase on the county’s 2024 budget. All of the basic funding would come from the county’s general fund, over a third of which comes from taxpayers on the county’s west side, proportionately more than eastside taxpayers.

North Summit Fire District and South Summit Fire District would continue to receive the $900,000 they both already receive from the county general fund too.

Part of the proposed plan stipulates the funding from the county would not increase, although it could be adjusted for inflation.

Kamas Mayor Matt McCormick and South Summit Fire District Commissioner David Ure both floated the idea of the county giving South Summit additional temporary funds for a few years to help it develop its EMS capacity.

There’s still time for those sorts of revisions. County and fire staff will need to crunch the numbers and present a more detailed plan to the mayors at a future meeting, so the mayors can send a recommendation to the Summit County Council, which will ultimately approve or deny the plan.

In the meantime, Scott has offered to give presentations on the new proposed EMS system to the various city councils to educate them as well as get councilmembers’ feedback.

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